ANC's deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Johannesburg - The ANC's deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has slammed criminal accusations levelled against party leaders, saying these were akin to guilty findings outside a court process.

This comes as fresh corruption allegations have emerged against ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule relating to his stint as Free State premier, during which his family members and close allies scored lucrative contracts from the provincial government.

Addressing the media on the outcomes of the two-day Alliance Political Council, which started on Sunday and was attended by SACP, Cosatu and SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) leaders, Duarte said there was agreement to back efforts aimed at abating criminality, including corruption and parasitic networks - which were blamed for aiding the looting of the state through state capture.

Duarte, however, spoke out over criminal accusations against party leaders before they were found guilty in the courts.

“Let us allow the law to identify criminality. Allow the law to charge people appropriately. Allow the courts to be independent and make the right decisions at the end of the process.

"If we continue with a process of already finding people guilty - because that is the choice we are making - then we are not allowing the law to make that choice. People have a right to defend themselves and they have a right to be heard in defending themselves,” she said.

On Tuesday, The Daily Maverick reported that Magashule’s brother Ezekiel Magashule, his daughter Thoko Malembe and his successor and deputy president of the ANC Women’s League Sisi Ntombela’s sons were among a politically connected group of beneficiaries of contracts from the Free State government.

The group reportedly received contracts for roads maintenance, grass cutting and other services from the provincial Police, Roads and Transport Department - including bakkies, trailers and related equipment from the provincial government.

Sanco general secretary Skhumbuzo Mpanza echoed Duarte’s words, saying while there were allegations against ANC leaders’ involvement, these leaders were innocent in terms of the principle of the law, which presumed them so until proved otherwise.

“I think as South Africans we must respect that principle and respect as well all the law processes and not jump to conclusions and subject leaders to kangaroo courts and media courts, as always appears to be the case,” Mpanza said.

Outspoken SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said while they were opposed to witch-hunts against individuals, the rule of law had to be used to bring to book all those implicated in criminality.

“Action must be taken against wrongdoing, against corruption and to dismantle all the networks that have inhibited the capacity of our state and state-owned enterprises to function optimally for the development of our country,” Mapaila said.

The Alliance Political Council also discussed the reconfiguration of the alliance as proposed by the SACP and backed by other alliance partners, as well as the plans to campaign for the 2019 elections.

The alliance secretariat has been charged with consolidating a draft document that will be discussed by all alliance components ahead of the Alliance Summit in October, where the alliance's position on reconfiguration is expected to be finalised.

The SACP has questioned former president Jacob Zuma’s role in the ANC’s campaign ahead of next year’s elections due to corruption allegations, which could turn voters off.

Both the SACP and Cosatu had banned Zuma from their gatherings and called for his removal when he was succeeded as ANC president by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mapaila said while the SACP had views on Zuma on the matter, it wanted to allow him to mourn the loss of his son.

“As communists, we are compelled to always speak the truth. We have raised the matter in the meeting, but I must indicate that it will be important to appreciate that Zuma is still mourning the loss of his son, and we express our condolences to him and his family. We want to respect him in that space, to mourn properly,” Mapaila said.

Magashule said the alliance meeting also received a report on Ramaphosa’s meeting with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, adding that alliance partners agreed that the government had no intention to expropriate land held in trust by traditional leaders on behalf of communities.

Political Bureau